Medicare claims data would be transparent to the public via a free, searchable database if a bill introduced June 18 becomes law. The Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act (Medicare DATA Act) is a bipartisan effort, led by US Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore).
“Taxpayers have a right to see how their dollars are being spent,” Grassley said in a statement on his government webpage. “There shouldn’t be a special exception for hard-earned dollars that happen to be spent through Medicare.”
The Medicare DATA Act would require that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) put forth regulations to offer a Medicare payment database that is searchable and open to the public for free. In addition, the bill also states that Medicare payments info to physicians and suppliers should not be considered a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption. US Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo) is co-sponsoring the bill.
Prior to this bill’s introduction, Grassley had cobbled together a similar bill mandating that Department of Health and Human Services allow Medicare claims and payment data to be publicly available in a way that mirrors how federal expenditures are noted on www.USAspending.gov. Alongside Grassley’s plan, Wyden was working on a way to make the Medicare data available to the public via FOIA. The Medicare DATA Act represents a combined approach to aimed at transparency to the public.